They knew he was one of the best in the game enter Sunday night's game, but after Rodgers completed 83 percent of his passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, Vikings defenders were left giving him high praise.
"I went back and looked at the film and the guys did a great job covering him. It wasn't like he was bombing 60-yarders," safety Jamarca Sanford said Monday. "The biggest play they had, (Jordy) Nelson caught the ball on the seam and they had a couple runs, but you go back and look at the film and, Aaron Rodgers, it's him. It's not receivers running amazing routes. Guys were in perfect position, but the way he put the ball, you go back and look at film and it was unbelievable."
The Packers converted an amazing 13 of 18 third downs, picking up another two first downs with fourth-down conversions, had only three incompletions in his first 16 passes and finished the first half with a near perfect passer rating of 150.3.
His 98.6 QBR rating in ESPN's system on a scale to 100 is the highest in any start of his career, and he hit on 10 of 10 passes on third down for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
Two of those third-down passes were especially impressive to the Vikings. The first came on the opening drive, when a third-and-2 pass to Jordy Nelson was perfectly placed with CB Josh Robinson in coverage.
"I've had to be honest with myself in watching some of the things he did on tape, some of the throws he made," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "That first touchdown he threw on Josh Robinson, Josh had great coverage. Where that ball was thrown and the catch Nelson made, that was pretty impressive.
"I told Josh, ‘I don't know if myself or any of the other coaches could tell you to do anything different from what you did and the position he was in. (Rodgers') mobility definitely creates some problems for your defense. … He's too good of a quarterback to get the number of third-and-2s, third-and-3s that they had yesterday. And that's what we gotta, we gotta get that turned around. I think I know what needs to happen to get that turned around."
Not playing Rodgers for another month should help, but Tony Romo is having a good season, too, and that's who the Vikings face Sunday.
Still, it was Rodgers who had them completely baffled Sunday night.
The other third-down throw he made that stood out to defenders was a quick-strike pass to Nelson on third-and-6 on the Packers' third drive. The Vikings sent a blitz and LB Chad Greenway moved to cover Nelson quickly. Greenway was in good position, but it didn't matter. Rodgers threw a bullet strike and Nelson was gone on a 76-yard touchdown to give Green Bay a 17-10 second-quarter lead.
"Chad was right there. It's a game of inches, but most quarterbacks wouldn't make that throw. They'd see Chad and the position Chad was in and they would go to another receiver and they'd figure he was covered," Sanford said. "The one pass he made on Josh, the first touchdown they scored, Josh (had) great defense. Where he put the ball is unbelievable. You've just got to give credit where credit is due. It's Aaron Rodgers. That's why he's one of the best."
Rodgers entered the game completing 65 percent of his passes. His 83 completion percentage against the Vikings was the best of his career when throwing at least five passes.
He did it all without having James Jones, Randall Cobb or Jermichael Finley – his top three targets last year.
"We went into that game knowing they had only one starter (among the receivers) and everybody was hurt," Sanford said. "But we knew 12 was going to make it work. We knew that. We knew he was going to be the key to the puzzle. He did exactly what we knew. He didn't prove us wrong. I would say you've got to give Aaron Rodgers credit."
Even Packers coach Mike McCarthy had to admit it was one of the best games of Rodgers' career.
"It really was. I think it's just really shaping up to be one of Aaron's best years," McCarthy said. "Aaron's had a lot of challenges Monday through Saturday that don't show up on a stat sheet. Just the change, just trying to get on the same page with younger players, trusting the game plan, because when you are as productive as we've been there was such a comfort with our no huddle and we really felt that we were rolling around a cylinder. So we kind of had to go a different direction and he has to command it. This thing obviously wouldn't work without him."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.